Cornwall and its food scene really is something to be admired.
The fact that a small, largely rural, county produces some of the best food in the world, as Cornwall does (my own restaurant may make this statement just a little biased…), comes as a surprise to some. But it shouldn’t: with a beautiful coastline, roaming fields and a booming tourism trade to please, not to mention the abundance of creative minds that call it home, Cornwall has an expectation to live up to.
For its population density, Cornwall is the chosen abode of a lot of brilliant chefs. Nathan Outlaw holds the reputation for the best restaurant in the country in Port Isaac; Paul Ainsworth’s in Padstow is turning heads (my own included- lunch at No6 was one of the best I’ve ever had); and I guess we can’t fail to mention the cult-following that Rick Stein brings to his smattering of fish kitchens across the county.
But it’s not just the array of fabulous restaurants scattering the seaside towns that make Cornwall so fantastic for foodies- every summer the county’s calendar is full to bursting with festivals: and food often takes the centre stage.
My favourite is St Ives’ annual event, not just because it was one of mine and my boyfriend’s first dates (our memories often centre around eating), but because it doesn’t overwhelm my greedy senses and cause me to grab a hot dog and head home, simply because the sheer amount of people and smells is making me feel dizzy and nauseous.
Smaller than the acclaimed Porthleven festival that took over the village last month and saw hundreds of traders hustling for their fare in the harbour-side sunshine, St Ives takes a far more relaxed approach, with vendors pitching up on the beautiful Porthminster beach for a weekend of sunshine (not guaranteed), music, and most importantly, food and drink from some of the county’s best street-side griddles and pans.
With demonstrations from top local chefs running through the weekend, live music providing the soundtrack and a circle of street food stalls cupping the whole event, there’s plenty to keep yourself busy.
I ran, as always, straight for the Pad Thai stall. I take it upon myself to try every street-side box of noodles that crosses my path, and Jumunjy had me covered this time. Serving up veggie & chicken Pad Thai, satay skewers and even Thai-style crispy fried chicken (which looked amazing), these guys have got the Thai corner of your Cornish food festival covered (perhaps in sticky peanut sauce. Yum).
Some familiar faces instantly called out to us: Terry’s beacon-of-orange Achar serves up Indian street food that packs an authentic punch, and I included him in a previous vegan post as a winner for tasty street food. Terry didn’t disappoint on this sunny Sunday afternoon, with a specially extended menu for the occasion: the crispy paneer pakoras were delicious, served with a sweet coconut chutney that took you to somewhere much warmer than the North Coast.
St Ives Cider were there to bring you straight back to Cornwall with their delicious Godrevy Gold, a smooth and easy-drinking tipple that’s perfect for whatever cuisine its washing down. Unlike a lot of other ciders I’ve sampled in my time (hello, 14-year-old me and those Strongbow-fuelled Friday nights), it wasn’t so sweet I wanted to rip my teeth out, and it always feels good to support local, even if the foodie flavours you’re sampling come from afar. Geddon.
There were so many other vendors to see and taste- from rum to churros, oysters to hot dogs, the weekend really did have something for everyone. And who doesn’t want to spend a Sunday afternoon supporting local businesses on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, and eating so much you have to literally waddle back up the hill to the car?
All the mentioned foodie stalls are linked above, as are some of the awesome restaurants and producers we’re lucky to call local in Cornwall. Go forth and feast, and then come back here and tell me what you thought!